Met Opera season continues with ‘Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg’
Special to the Daily
If you go
What: Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg,” part of the 2014-15 “Met Opera: Live in HD” broadcast season
Where: The Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College, 107 Denison Placer Ave., Breckenridge
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13
Cost: $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and Met Members and $10 for students and children
More information: Sandwiches, snacks and beverages will be served. For ticket information and purchase, call the National Repertory Orchestra Office at (970) 453-5825. Ticket purchase may also be made online by visiting the NRO website at http://www.nromusic.com.
The first-time Metropolitan Opera high-definition broadcast of Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg” will be transmitted at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Saturday, Dec. 13, starting at 10 a.m.
In a recent Met Opera promotion, this opera broadcast is described as “something for everyone — solos, ensembles, choruses, processionals and Otto Schenk’s 1993 production with its picture-postcard sets remaining still a charmer.” James Levine returns as the master conductor to bring it all together.
The opening overture is a popular musical composition that is often included in many symphony performances.
The curtain rises on a set of pews in the church of St. Katharine, where a chorale is being sung. The focus is on Eva Pogner (German soprano Annette Dasch) and her attendant, Magdalene (Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill). Walther von Stolzing (South African tenor Johan Botha), a visiting knight from Franconia, has his eyes set on Eva. When the service concludes, Eva and Walther exchange mutual affection.
Walther is soon told that Eva’s father, Pogner (German bass Hans-Peter König), one of the mastersingers, has offered his daughter in marriage to whomever wins the upcoming song contest. Walther’s musical shortcomings preclude his achieving the rank of “Meister,” yet Magdalene’s lover, David (American tenor Paul Appleby) coaches him to achieve this high rank.
Next on the scene, other mastersingers arrive, including Beckmesser (German tenor Johannas Martin Krangle), who also has his eye on Eva, serving as the “marker,” the judge in a closed cage making chalk marks on a slate anytime a contest singer’s performance deviates from the established rules. The spiteful Beckmesser, whose many marks doom Walther to failure, interrupts Walther’s rendition midway. Yet Hans Sachs (German baritone Michael Volle), a long-term mastersinger himself and village shoemaker, recognizes Walther’s musical potential.
Act II is a street scene with Pogner’s house to one side and Sachs’ on the other. David, Magdalene and apprentices are preparing for a midsummer night ritual. Eva arrives with her father, only to learn from Magdalene of Walther’s contest failure. Eva next meets with Sachs, who has set up his shoe repair bench outside his door; she expresses her hope that he himself would win the contest.
Upon being dismissed, she leaves but meets Walther, who suggests that he and Eva should elope. Upon sensing Beckmesser’s arrival, they both hide.
Beckmesser has come to meet with Sachs to rehearse his song as a serenade for Eva, seen in the upper window of Pogner’s house. In fact, it is Magdalene in disguise. Sachs, who is repairing Beckmesser’s shoe, indicates that he will drive a nail into the shoe each time a rule of style is broken during the song. Many nail strokes indicate Beckmesser’s failure, even though the shoe repair is finished. David arrives to attack Beckmesser, sensing that Magdalene is being wooed. The ensuing commotion brings the night-shirted neighbors out in a free-for-all, ending only when the night watchman’s horn disperses them.
Act III opens in Sachs’ study, where he is pondering the present-day world’s madness. Walther appears, telling Sachs of a dream he had that night. Recognizing the potential for a prize song, Sachs takes down the words and fashions them into a poem. He gives a copy to Walther as both leave the room. Beckmesser arrives in the empty room; he discovers and takes the poem Sachs has written.
The final scene is one of the best-acted and -sung of all operas. In a meadow outside the city, citizens assemble, followed by the guilds arriving with waving banners. The singing contest opens with Beckmesser, who distorts the song, forgetting many words, bringing rounds of laughter. Walther next sings his “Prize Song” and is proclaimed winner both of the contest prize and of Eva. The opera ends with Sachs heralding the music — “Holy German Art” — as those gathered sing in unison, “Hail Sachs, Nuremberg’s poet.”
One downside of this opera is perhaps its 4½-hour length. However, according to Wagner himself, “this theatrical drama is one of unending melody.” Indeed, the stage action moves rhythmically forward with soloists, ensembles and the orchestral harmony, all under the baton of Levine.
Time becomes less of a concern as this performance offers something for everyone.
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